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Your next outdoor adventure has never been more affordable
From campgrounds in national parks to music festivals, picking the right 2-person tent for your next outdoor trip can make or break your experience. Most tents on the market come with a wide range of bells and whistles, like waterproof material, extra doors and windows, and easy setup and take down. However, the features you need will vary largely, based on the type of camping you’ll be doing — as Katy Perry learned after transitioning from backyard camping to camping "in the wild."
Outdoor travel requires more preparedness than most trips — you have to pay special attention to things like temperature, rain, and the area's terrain. All of these things will dictate what kind of tent is right for you, so that you can have the best (and most comfortable) experience possible.
If you’ve ever been camping before, you’ve probably made the rookie mistake of packing a tent with no rain fly and woken up to rainwater leaking inside or found yourself baking from the inside out due to poor insulation, only to realize that your tent is designed for colder weather and it’s the middle of the summer. To spare you this misery, we tested 18 tents across the country to find the 8 best 2-person tents for your next big adventure.
Best Overall: REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent With Footprint
We loved how lightweight this tent was, which made it easy to pack up and transport.
The adjustable flaps on the rainfly allowed for extra airflow, which is necessary during the summer months or early in the morning when the rising sun makes things stuffy.
The hubbed pole system made set up a total breeze.
The poles are connected by elastic, which will wear down, so it may not be the best if you’re looking for long-term use.
The “2 plus” sizing designation is a bit misleading, any more than two people will be a tight squeeze.
We were immediately impressed by this REI 2-person tent due to how easy it was to assemble. It has a “hubbed” pole system, meaning all the poles are already connected like spokes, making setup a total breeze. It’s also very lightweight and easy to pick up and shift placement, especially if you’re on a slight slope or particularly rocky spot. The lightweight nature also made it very breathable. The tent itself is made of nylon and features two vented flaps in the fly that pop out for boosted airflow, which is a great feature for the early morning hours when the sun first hits and you may start to heat up. Also, on the note of how lightweight this tent is, we loved how easy it was to carry and transport. It’s very light and compact when packed up, which makes it ideal for backpacking or bike trips. The carry sack also makes it perfect for sticking in a backpack or any small storage compartment.
As far as extra design features, it included plastic clips for the rainfly to attach to the poles, as well as velcro fasteners. All the hardware felt well-made, including the poles and tent fabric, which is waterproof. The one thing we did note is that the elastic that holds the pole sections together seemed like it would wear out after a while, though that’s fairly easy to replace, if needed. Another thing to keep in mind if you purchase this tent is that the “2 plus” sizing is a bit misleading. After testing this tent out with two adults and a dog, we found that any extra people would have been too much. If you’re traveling with your family and are hoping to all sleep in this tent, it will be a tight squeeze.
With all this being said, we ranked this as the best overall because of how well it performed in so many categories, especially in context of the price. It was breathable, easy to assemble, good quality, and highly portable. If you’re going to be doing a lot of camping while on the go and want a small, easy-to-use tent, this is the perfect option for you.
Price at time of publish: $230.29 (orig. $329.00)
Colors Available: 3 | Material: 40-denier ripstop nylon | Height: 42 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 33.75 square feet | Packed Size: 7 x 20.5 inches
Best Budget: REI Co-op Trailmade 2 Tent With Footprint
Coming in at $179, this is a great option for novice campers who aren’t quite ready to make a big investment in a tent.
Assembly was incredibly easy and user friendly; it took just over two and a half minutes to complete setup
This tent is very small and has no standing room.
Whether you’re in a pinch and need a tent quickly without breaking the bank, or you’re dipping your toes into all things outdoorsy, the REI Trail Made Two Person tent got our vote as the best budget-friendly tent. It is the cheapest 2-person tent we tested, but it certainly performed well considering the price. One thing we love about this tent is how easy it is to assemble, which is in large part due to the fact that the tent is secured to metal poles with hooks rather than fabric inserts. Instead of taking the time to slide each pole through long fabric pieces that they will inevitably get lost in, all you have to do is fasten each hook into place and voila — you’re all set. The poles and polyester tent fabric also feel like good-quality material that will last for many years of travel, across varying weather conditions and terrain.
Perhaps the biggest sign of the “budget-friendly” nature of this tent is the size. Standing at just under 40 inches of peak height, there’s kneeling room only. There isn’t much extra space, and while it does fit two adults as is promised on the website, you can’t fit much else. This is something to keep in mind if you’ll be traveling with large packs or with pets. If you won’t have a car to store cargo on your trip, this may not be the best choice for you. However, the ease with which is was assembled, the quality of the materials, and the low price point make this a great option if you’re trying to save money or are new to camping and don’t need to invest in a tent with lots of bells and whistles.
Price at time of publish: $125.29 (orig. $179)
Colors Available: 2 | Material: Polyester/Nylon | Height: 39.9 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 31.7 square feet | Packed Size: 8.5 x 22 inches
Best for Pet Owners: Poler 2+ Person Tent
The height of the tent gives it a more spacious feel, and there is remarkably more legroom than other two-person tents we tested.
Color coded loops and hooks are used to attach the tent itself to the metal hardware, making for a foolproof assembly.
The rain fly did a good job of blocking high winds overnight.
It is fairly heavy once packed, so this one may not be the best options for backpackers or solo campers.
If you’re going to be traveling with pets, it’s important to take into account your and your furry friend’s comfort, and this Poler 2-person tent is an excellent choice. This tent won our vote for pet owners because of how much extra leg room there is, especially considering it’s a 2-person tent. Although it’s only forty inches at its peak height, the gently domed shape makes it feel more spacious, even with two adults and a dog inside. As far as assembly and disassembly, the process was fairly easy. One thing we love about this tent is that the loops and hooks used to attach the tent to its metal framing are color-coded, which simplifies the assembly process. The disassembly was even easier — the tent folded up neatly and fit nicely in the carrying case, no matter which way you folded it. We will note that the instructions are a bit vague and sparse, so if you are a camping beginner, it could take longer to assemble. Once packed, the tent weighs about six pounds, which is a fairly heavy tent to carry; if you do plan on backpacking or have a long way to carry to your campsite, this could be inconvenient.
Overnight, we found that the rainfly (which is made of durable 30-denier ripstop polyester) did a good job of blocking high winds. While it did start to heat up when the sun first rose in the morning, the all-screen base managed to allow a good amount of airflow. While this would be a more practical feature in a warmer climate, we did appreciate the extra ventilation. All in all, we were impressed by how spacious the tent felt considering how compact it is, and we loved the user-friendly features. If you’re traveling with pets or just want extra space for maximized comfort, this tent is a great option for you.
Price at time of publish: $280
Colors Available: 2 | Material: 210T ripstop polyester | Height: 40 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 35.42 square feet | Packed Size: 7.5 x 18 inches
Best Investment: Nemo Dagger Osmo 3 Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent
This tent is surprisingly spacious on the inside, so besides fitting two people comfortably, it can also fit each person’s pack, which is necessary on a rainy night.
The carrying case keeps all the parts compact and organized for easy transport.
Even during an intense thunder and rainstorm, there was zero leaking inside.
There are no instructions included, which could complicate setup, especially if you’re a beginner.
The tent didn’t come with a footprint, so if you wanted to protect the underside of the tent, you’d have to provide your own tarp.
This 3-person tent knocked it out of the park in so many areas, we don’t even know where to begin! For one thing, all of the pieces are color-coded, which makes setup so much easier, especially with figuring out how to properly fit the rain covering. Also, the poles are already connected, which gives you a nearly instant frame that you can pull the tent fabric onto with ease. Though we didn’t need any tools and were able to push the stakes in with the bottom of our shoes, this may vary depending on what kind of terrain you’re setting up on. There were no instructions included in this tent, which made us nervous at first since there are quite a few pieces, but we figured it out without any issues.
We were taken aback at just how big it felt once we stepped inside. Even with two people inside, we could still fit two packs inside too, which was impossible with many of the tents we tested. This came in very handy, especially because it was a rainy night.
On one of the nights this tent was tested, there was heavy rain, thunder, and wind, but to our surprise, there was absolutely zero leaking inside the tent. Even though the ground was flooding around the tent, we stayed completely dry. Also, despite the high winds, our sleep was not disrupted, and we didn’t feel or notice any effects of the wind inside of the tent. This is huge. If you’re an experienced camper, you’ve most likely had a time or two when you woke up to rain creeping through a zipper or flimsy rainfly. Regarding packing up, it was just as easy to tear down as it was to put the thing together. There are separate bags for the poles and other hardware, so staying organized is easy. The carrying case was so compact that it could fit inside a backpack, so this tent is also ideal if you’re working with limited space.
This tent got our vote as “Best Investment,” because it performed well in many ways, but it has a higher price tag than some others on our list. It is one of the most expensive tents we tested — however, it comes with so many bells and whistles, so if you are an avid outdoors person, the splurge is completely worth it. The easy assembly, watertight material, and spacious inside will elevate all your future camping trips (and it's on sale right now).
Price at time of publish: $397.46 (orig. $529.95)
Colors Available: 2 | Material: Nylon/polyester | Height: 42 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 31.3 square feet | Packed Size: 19.5 x 6.5 inches
Best for Beginners: Marmot Tungsten 2 Person Tent with Footprint
There are lots of thoughtful features, like a clip at the top of the tent for hanging a lantern.
It’s very spacious and fit two adults and a medium-sized dog comfortably.
The Velocity HD Aluminium poles are sturdy and built to withstand lots of pressure.
The instructions are kind of vague, so expect to spend some extra time setting up on your first trip.
The mesh material on the top of the tent may rip easily.
The Marmot Tungsten 2-person tent won our vote for beginners largely because of its affordability. Coming in at just under $250, this tent is one of the most affordable ones we tested. And considering the low price point, there are a lot of great features. For one thing, the material is surprisingly high quality — the aluminum poles are strong and sturdy, and the tent fabric’s moisture-wicking properties are on point, so you’re sure to be protected from any rain or moisture. Also, it feels fairly spacious on the inside. For this test, two people and their packs (and a medium-sized dog!) all fit comfortably, which is more than can be said for some of the other (more expensive) tents we tested. Another feature we really enjoyed was a clip at the top of the tent for hanging your lantern, so you can have hands-free light at night.
The biggest drawback for this one was the set up — the instructions were fairly vague, so setting it up took just under forty minutes. However, disassembly was way more intuitive and took about half the time. This is a tent you’d want to have two people working on as it is a little complicated the first few times, but that's part of the fun of camping. It's a great quality tent for an affordable price, so if you want to dip your toe in outdoor adventuring without making a major investment, this would be a great place to start.
Price at time of publish: $174.30 (orig. $249)
Colors Available: 2 | Material: Polyester | Height: Not listed | Floor Area: 30.1 square feet | Packed Size: 24.4 x 5.9 inches
Best UL (Ultralight): Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Tent
The instructions are very straightforward — if you have a helper, you can set up this tent in under five minutes.
No extra tools are required for setup, which helps keep your base pack weight down
The seams of the tent fabric are strong, and it feels very secure, considering the lightweight material.
Although technically made for two people, it is a very tight squeeze if you plan on traveling with a partner.
The white rainfly is more prone to show dirt over time.
If you’re looking for a tent for your next ultralight camping journey, the Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL tent may be perfect for you. This is our pick for all the UL campers out there because of how lightweight it is without sacrificing quality. The seams are strong, and the tent fabric itself feels durable. The first time we set it up, we simulated heavy rain by spraying it down with a garden hose, and everything stayed dry. Water beaded quickly off the rainfly without letting any water or moisture seep inside. No extra tools are required to set it up, though you could find a flat rock to use as a mallet on the stakes if you were out and about working with a really rough terrain. This is also perfect for ultralight camping if you’re trying to minimize the amount of gear you’re traveling with.
Depending on where you are and if you’re with a partner, you can easily get this tent set up in under five minutes — the instructions are very easy to follow, although the tent itself is very user-friendly and you likely won’t have to rely on the instructions to figure it out. To give you some perspective, by the time we had pitched the tent and rolled out our sleeping pads, our heart rates were still up from hiking on the trails all day! Throughout the night, we didn’t find that it felt unstable, especially in the face of high wind. We would recommend taking extra care with the stakes and making sure they are extra secure, just because the tent is so light.
We found two main drawbacks with this tent — the size and the color. While it is pretty big for an ultralight tent, it isn’t exactly comfortable and roomy for two people, especially if you’re both on the taller side. The headspace feels especially narrow when you’re laying down, though the compact nature is a big reason why it’s so lightweight. As far as the color, while we do like the look of the white rain fly, it will most likely show dirt and general wear and tear sooner rather than later.
Coming in at $315 at the time of publishing this article, it is most certainly worth the investment considering all the features it fits into such a small package. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is compact, so if you’re planning on using it at a campground for extended periods, or if you prefer to have more space, you may not find it to be the right investment. But considering the high quality materials and easy set up, this is definitely a winner for ultralight camping.
Price at time of publish: $315 (orig. $420)
Colors Available: 1 | Material: Nylon | Height: 41 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 28.1 square feet | Packed Size: 6 x 12 inches
Best Lightweight: MSR FreeLite 2-Person Ultralight Backpacking Tent
No extra tools are needed to assemble, so there’s less to pack.
The instructions are easy to follow and the tent itself is so user friendly, you may not even need them.
Even during an intense rainstorm, the tent stayed completely dry.
There is no carrying strap, so it has to be strapped to something else if you’re taking it on a long hiking trip.
It is very small, so don’t expect to be able to sit up or move around much inside.
Whether you’re backpacking or prefer a more minimalist approach to camping, the MSR FreeLite tent is a great option, and it won our vote for the best lightweight 2-person tent out of all the tents we tested. Right off the bat, we were impressed by how easy it was to assemble — the instructions feature clear and concise diagrams that guide you through each step of assembly, and at some points, we found that we didn’t even need the instructions since all the gear was so user friendly.
We put this tent to the ultimate test because on the one night we tested it, we experienced intense rain. In spite of this, the tent's interior stayed completely dry, aside from a few stray raindrops here and there, and it stayed put even against high wind. Considering how lightweight it is, this is huge.
Although it performed well in all these ways, the natural drawback is that it is pretty cramped on the inside. Three people slept inside for the test, which was obviously a tight squeeze because it’s meant for two people, but even with two people, it is a bit cozy. There’s not room to sit up or move around, so you should prepare to only use it as a crash pad after a long day of hiking. Besides this, our other main complaint was that the carrying case lacked a strap, so you’d need to either strap it to your pack or carry it on the inside if you plan on taking it on large trips. In spite of all this, we still found the $450 price tag to be worth it. The ease of set up, lightweight material, and the assurance that you will stay dry in a torrential downpour is incredibly valuable. And right now, it's over $100 off.
Price at time of publish: $337.39 (orig. $449.95)
Colors Available: 1 | Material: Nylon | Height: 39 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 29 square feet | Packed Size: 18 x 4.5 inches
Best for Backpackers: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent
Color-coded hardware made set-up incredibly easy.
At three pounds, it's very easy to transport.
No extra tools were required to set up the tent, and the stakes were ultimately optional.
The stakes don’t have any hook or crook at the top, which made it difficult to attach guy lines.
The tent is approximately 5’5” long, meaning that anyone taller than that may have a hard time fully lying down inside.
If you’re looking for a tent for a backpacking trip, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a fantastic choice. The first thing we noticed about this tent was how easy it was to assemble. Each side is color-coded to match the proper side of the tent — orange poles go into the orange tent base piece and, on the opposite side, silver poles go into a silver base. This saves you any guesswork on which side goes where and would come in handy if you’re setting up camp in the dark after a long day of hiking.
Another thing that makes this backpacking friendly is that no additional tools are required for setup, although a hammer would speed up the process of inserting the stakes into the ground, if you choose to use them. Unless you plan on being in a particularly windy location, the stakes are also optional, which will save you quite a bit of setup time.
Another thing we love about this tent is how lightweight it is to transport. Coming in at just over 3 pounds when packed, it is one of the lightest tents we tested. The tent itself and all the pieces it comes with are packed up neatly so that you can easily put it in a backpack without taking up too much space. The lightweight feel in transport is especially impressive considering how high-quality the tent looks and feels. It’s well built, well structured, and feels like a sturdy place to lay your head each night.
However, all these space and time-saving perks come at a cost — the tent is about 5’5” long, meaning that if you are any taller, it may be a bit uncomfortable to sleep in, especially with more than one person. Another drawback we found, depending on how you look at it, is the price. This is one of the more expensive tents we tested and would most certainly be an investment. But considering how many features Big Agnes packs into those three pounds, we found the price worth it.
Price at time of publish: $449.95
Colors Available: 4 | Material: Nylon/fabric | Height: 40 inches (peak) | Floor Area: 19 square feet | Packed Size: 6 x 19.5 inches
Things to Consider Before Buying a 2-Person Tent
Ease of Setup
If you’re a beginner, picking a tent that’s easy to assemble is crucial. Setting up camp is already exhausting, and struggling to make sense of a complicated design or vague directions can sour what’s supposed to be a fun adventure. This was why we loved the MSR FreeLite™ 2-Person Ultralight Backpacking Tent. It featured simple diagrams that give you a visual on how to set up, which is very helpful if you’re not familiar with the names of different tent parts.
If you plan on doing any backcountry camping, portability is a must. When camping in untouched places, it’s essential to move camp every night so as not to disturb the wildlife and natural elements, according to the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board. (And when enjoying the great outdoors, we want to do our part to ensure we keep getting to enjoy it in the future.) The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 at Amazon is an excellent example of a tent that is lightweight and compact once packed, so it’s easy to move from place to place.
Tents aren’t cheap, so picking one that’s durable is key for making a sound investment. The last thing you want is a tent that’s worn down by the elements, and one thing that most commonly wears down tents early on is moisture and mold. Looking at the material of the tent fabric and whether or not it has moisture-wicking properties is a good way to evaluate its durability. For example, the NEMO Dagger OSMO™ Lightweight Backpacking Tent is made of poly-nylon ripstop fabric and has excellent water repellency, which means it won’t be worn down by the elements as easily.
If you want to boost the durability of your tent even further, Bill Gamber, founder of Big Agnes, says that taking care of your tent will go a long way. “We always encourage everybody to store them in an air-conditioned area if [there’s a lot of] humidity." While properly caring for your tent is important, the material it's made of will surely set you up for success, as well.
How We Tested 2-Person Tents
We tested 18 tents total (11 2-person tents) in different regions and climates across the country over the course of 150+ hours. Before that, we interviewed Bill Gamber, founder and president of Big Agnes, on the must-have aspects of a great 2-person tent (and what you should avoid). With this information in tow, we pulled together our tent options and fully assessed the instructions for each to see if we needed to bring extra tools on the adventure for assembly (but bonus points if they were included). Some of the tents were PR samples, others were purchased at full price, but our testers were unaware of the cost and acquirement while testing and rating. Our next step was simple: take it on the road.
From rain to shine to campgrounds to private property, we exposed these tents to the raw elements every step of the way. We spent a minimum of one night in each tent outdoors, from mountainous terrain to Midwestern flatlands, and tested them on the following parameters: ease of setup, ease of use, performance, portability, design, durability, disassembly, and value. We assessed how easy (or difficult) it was to get the tents upright and how they fared in different weather. To take things a step further, we poured a cup of water onto the exterior to see if it would roll right off or drip through. We won’t let you camp in a soggy tent!
After we spent a night or two under the stars, we took down our tents to see if there were issues with disassembly. (Spoiler alert: those ones didn’t make the list.) We then shared our experience, rating each tent on a scale from one to five (one being the lowest performing and five being the highest). We compiled our information, compared and contrasted it, and came up with this list, which we fully stand behind.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size tent is best for 2 people?
The proper tent size is largely dependent on how you’ll be using your tent. If you plan on just using it for sleep, the size you’re looking for will look very different than if you want a space where you can hang out. However, for plain and simple comfort, a good rule of thumb is to allow about 20 square feet of space for each person sleeping in your tent.
Is a 6-pound tent too heavy?
The weight of what you’re carrying really only matters if you’re backpacking. If you are driving to a campsite or camping on your own property, the weight of the tent comes down to preference. However, if you plan on backpacking, six pounds will take up quite a bit of real estate.
This may put it into perspective for you: A lightweight backpacker carries a base weight (the weight of their pack without food, water, and fuel) of twenty pounds. An ultralight backpacker carries a base weight of ten pounds. In this context, a six-pound tent takes up a lot of space, so you should aim to carry a lighter tent to maximize room for other essentials. Coming in at just over two pounds while packed, we recommend the Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Tent for any camper that needs to pack light.
Is a small tent warmer than a large tent?
In theory, a smaller tent is warmer because there is less space to warm with your body heat. However, most tents are designed to have heavy ventilation, so it’s unlikely that heat will be trapped inside for very long. Buying a smaller tent for warmth only makes sense if you buy a tent designed for cold weather.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Olivia Avitt is a writer that has written about a wide range of subjects, from the best home products to wellness stories. For this story, she gathered insights from our testing team and their interview with outdoor expert Bill Gamber, founder of Big Agnes. She also consulted information from the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board. They provided camping do’s and dont's and safety tips to help you explore and travel responsibly.
As far as credentials, our testers have a wide range of outdoor experience, from regular backpacking to car camping to days-long kayaking trips. All our testers have some experience with camping and setting up tents, so you can trust that their reviews are honest and insightful.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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